Category: Honor and Professional Societies
Name: Annie Wu
Year: Class of 2011
About the group: Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), also known as The Circle, is a national leadership honor society. It was founded December 3, 1914, at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA, and now has chapters on over 300 college campuses. The Beta Circle at JHU was actually the 2nd Chapter established, making it one of the oldest in the US. The purpose is 3-fold: 1) to recognize all-around leadership in college, 2) to bring together student leaders from all sectors of collegiate life to cooperate in worthwhile endeavor, and 3) to bring together members on a basis of mutual interest and understanding. Members of ODK are expected to remain active in campus politics, in upholding spiritual and moral values, and in rendering service to the campus and community.
1. Why did you choose to become involved?
As an underclassman at Johns Hopkins, I noticed that many upperclassmen who led student organizations of which I was a member so happened to be in ODK too. Because they served as excellent role models for me and I believed in ODK’s mission statement, I decided to apply to this society the fall semester of my junior year. Retrospectively, I’m glad I joined ODK because it ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made at Hopkins. I liked that ODK attracted students who excelled in different areas whom I could learn from and whom I might not have met otherwise. Their good qualities and high standards were contagious. In addition, working together with other ODK members and our advisor enabled me to grow more as a person and as a leader. Now, I can safely say that I am still highly involved with ODK not because I feel obligated to, but because I really admire everyone in ODK and am excited that we all have high hopes for what this society can achieve.
2. What special events or activities do this group coordinate/participate in?
What is great about ODK is that we coordinate a school-wide community service project. This past fall, the entire Hopkins student body was invited to the new Gilman building to make “get well” cards and decorate teddy bears. These bears were distributed to pediatric patients with cancer and other illnesses at the Johns Hopkins Hospital to give them comfort during the holiday season. Because we had decorated over a hundred cute bears, some were even sent to My Sister’s Place in Baltimore for the children and mothers who had escaped their homes due to acts of domestic violence. The participation among the student body exceeded ODK’s expectations, and the overwhelming help we received from other clubs, such as the Women’s Prehealth Leadership Society and Unite for Sight, was crucial for making this event a success. The collaboration between three organizations made setting up this Teddy Bear event a whole lot easier than if we had worked alone. That’s one big advantage of joining ODK: our network of leaders means we have access to abundant student groups on campus that can help each other.
3. What makes this group unique?
What makes ODK unique is that we are the only semi-secret society at Hopkins in regards to the way members are selected. Unlike most college honor societies that accept all potential members who meet the selection criteria and pay the required fees, ODK only chooses a very select group. If you don’t get into ODK the first time, don’t worry. You can actually apply again the following semesters. Once ODK members vote on those to be tapped, the selection is kept secret from everyone except for those chosen, who cannot tell anyone until the campus finds out through a public tapping ceremony. Last fall’s public tapping ceremony was certainly unique as the Hopkins Blue Jay appeared unexpectedly to physically “tap” new members with bam bam sticks. As a joke on April 1st, ODK members wearing black hooded druid-like costumes and specially designed golden key necklaces (called Circles) can be seen congregating on the Gilman quad in a big circle (you can’t miss this). The day of graduation, ODK members wear their Circle necklaces on their black graduation gowns rather than typical honor cords.
4. What have you gotten out of being part of this group?
I know that I have really enjoyed getting to know a few high achieving members (~20) in my ODK pledge class. As a group, ODK supports one another by attending major performances or events coordinated by ODK members who lead their respective clubs. This Spring, we plan to attend a Pan-Hellenic Sorority and Fraternity event, a Hopkins Symphony Orchestra concert, a Jay Walk and Modern Dance Company performance, the Film Society’s annual Film Festival, Witness theater’s play, and the Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship Poster Session. This is a perfect example of the variety of talented student leaders that ODK attracts. Although we are so different, one thing we share is a passion for what we do and a willingness to help each other. It has been fun working with them to better myself in my classes and student groups as well as working with them to solve bigger school-related issues or ways to improve Baltimore. I know that being a member of ODK has definitely made me feel more a part of this incredible community. I hope that you will consider applying to ODK in the future so that you can learn to love Hopkins as much as I have.
5. How can freshmen be involved?
Freshmen should definitely consider applying to ODK once they become juniors and seniors. Until then, my advice is to make the most out of Hopkins starting from day 1, meet people in your clubs, and find one or two clubs that you truly enjoy. Being highly involved in any club (and potentially a leader) can make your experience here at Hopkins a lot more rewarding. Being a member of ODK, in particular, can give you amazing ties to people and student organizations you never thought you would. If you are interested in ODK, definitely attend our community service events and please feel free to approach us. If you have any questions about ODK, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our collegiate website (http://web.jhu.edu/studentlife/ODK.html). Best of luck in the upcoming years. I am sure you will succeed at Johns Hopkins in the future, and I hope that my fellow ODK members and I have set good examples for you. The Beta Circle of ODK looks forward to meeting you soon.